Sunday, February 22, 2009

Common Sense Corrections: Fill Empty Beds, Especially When Someone Else is Paying

A continual source of frustration for me is that the state-funded River City Correctional Facility, located in Camp Washington, continues to have numerous empty beds, even as our (county-funded) Justice Center remains full, and the Sheriff is forced to process people through.

In January, the number of empty beds at River City was about 40 per day--in a jail with a 200-bed capacity. And that doesn't even include the fact that 45 or so beds are regularly filled with prisoners from outside the County.

I sent an email about halfway through January asking why in the world this continues to be a problem, and the good news is that we have had productive follow-up meetings, and will continue to do so, and the numbers are starting to improve again. (As of Thursday, there were 19 empty beds).

By the way, the state watches these numbers closely, and recently cut River City's funding by $250,000 because of the regular underutilization of its capacity. Needless to say, the idea that the County is losing state dollars because it's not fully utilizing jailspace is outrageous at a time that our own county-funded system is under such crowding stress.

Channel 5 recently looked into this whole thing, and did a nice summary of what's taking place.

And here's a story in today's Enquirer.


Anonymous said...

We hear it's because they pick and choose who they want at that facility.

Anonymous said...


Felons who are housed at RCCC who do not want treatment are counter-productive to a therapeutic environment. More often that not, a felon chooses 6 to 9 months at prison versus 4 to 6 months at RCCC and a year of aftercare, with a period of community control up to 5 years. I wish we could fill RCCC and eliminate the short prison stints for low level felons, however if a felon doesn't want alcohol or drug treatment, then the funds spend at RCCC are not worth it.

David Pepper said...

With all due respect, seeing the state routinely cut RCCC's funding is the true waste of resources. They are sending those dollars to the facilities around the state that somehow manage to use their full capacity.

I'm not pointing fingers at anyone. But if other similar facilities are showing better results, and literally getting our funding because of it, let's learn from what they're doing on a system-wide basis. And apply those solutions here.

I jave a hard time believing, when we have such an overcrowded system down here, that we have fewer people eligible or ultimately interested in this approach than the other major cities in Ohio. Just doesn't make any sense.

Anonymous said...

I've heard it said in critiques of the 12 step program other similar drug and alchol treatment programs that if they had to get FDA approval - none would qualify because none have a sufficient success level to even exceed those who decide to quit on their own.

Not that I don't think the programs have value - the education on the family dynamics alone that occur within the family with an addict are enlightening.

But they have drugs nowadays - anabuse for one - that accomplishes the one thing no program can guarantee and that's abstinence. With anabuse, if you so much as take cough medicine you will puke your guts out. It's impossible to drink if you are on the drug.

I propose that we just prescribe alcoholics anabuse for 5 years. The med stays in your system at least 3 days and if they invented a time release version that lasted a week, we'd be able to go from reporting every 3 days to once a week. Problem solved.

They also have a med for other addictions that blocks the ability for the brain to be affected by the narcotic. They just can't get the high they're looking for. Same goes, here.

Again, I think the ed component is important for the whole family with an addict, but the only proven treatment - 100% - is anabuse and other similar drugs. Like a chemical castration of the high. We should be using them.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Pepper,

One of the reasons why River City is not filled to capacity is because some of the Judges will not use River City because of their petty personal differences with River City adminisration.

Ask around.

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